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Sex During Pregnancy

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An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.


Sex in Pregnancy Is Generally Safe, With Few Complications

Pregnancy is a time of many changes for both partners, including changes in their sexual relationship. You and your partner may experience different feelings, so communication is as important now as always. You may also have questions or concerns about sexual behavior during pregnancy that you will want to ask your doctor, nurse, or midwife. The following information addresses some general questions about sex during pregnancy.

If a woman is in good health, she can have intercourse and orgasm with complete safety throughout her pregnancy. The fetus is very well protected by the environment of the womb and abdomen. Women who have a history of bleeding or miscarriage may be advised to limit their sexual activities and should talk with their doctor about these concerns. If you have such a history, do not assume you must abstain completely. Pregnancy can be a wonderful time to experiment with different positions and different forms of intimacy to accommodate your changing body.

During the first trimester, many women experience physical complaints such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue that may affect their desire to have sex. Urinary frequency is another common occurrence and some women may find that intercourse aggravates the condition. If you experience any of these complaints, you may be less interested in intercourse than before your pregnancy. Breast tenderness begins in the first trimester and continues throughout the pregnancy. Some women may find breast stimulation extremely uncomfortable while others find it especially pleasurable. A variety of intimate activities (kissing, caressing, mutual masturbation, oral sex) may still be very enjoyable early in your pregnancy. Again, being open with your partner is a good way to know what both of you are feeling.

Many of the early discomforts of pregnancy end during the second trimester, and renewed energy and an increase in sexual desire is common for many women. During the second trimester, the vagina becomes more engorged and vaginal lubrication increases as the baby drops lower in the pelvis, and many women say they are more easily aroused and more sexually responsive during this period. There may be a change in odor accompanying the increased lubrication which some couples may find unpleasant during oral sex.

There are differing opinions about how late in the third trimester it is safe to have intercourse. Some studies suggest couples should abstain completely for the last two months of pregnancy, while others conclude there are no risks associated with having intercourse up to the day of delivery. There is some evidence that condom use during the final months of pregnancy may lower the risk of infection. Many couples refrain from sexual intercourse late in pregnancy because they fear they may harm the baby or induce labor. Intercourse will not cause premature labor.

Your partner's weight on your abdomen during intercourse may be very uncomfortable late in pregnancy. Many couples find a side-lying position, either face-to-face or rear entry, is more comfortable. If you feel internal pressure during sex, it is wise to avoid deep penetration; using pillows or additional lubrication may relieve your discomfort. Intercourse with the woman on top usually results in deeper penetration, although it allows the woman more control of the depth. Breast stimulation may result in the secretion of colostrum (a thin, yellowish fluid) which is normal and harmless, but may be unpleasant for some couples. Some women prefer to avoid orgasm because the accompanying contractions may be uncomfortable; however, orgasm is not harmful. Understanding, warmth, and support are needed by both expectant parents during the final weeks of pregnancy when intercourse may be too tiring or uncomfortable. Oral sex and masturbation may be especially appropriate at the end of pregnancy if you are advised to abstain from intercourse.

There are two general warnings about sex during your pregnancy. The first is for your partner to avoid blowing air into your vagina during oral sex. This has been known to result in air embolisms which would endanger the mother's and baby's lives. The second warning is to use a condom for intercourse with a partner who may have a sexually transmitted disease such as herpes, genital warts (HPV), or chlamydia. If a woman becomes infected, the disease may be transmitted to her baby with potentially dangerous consequences.

Both you and your partner are experiencing many unique feelings during your pregnancy, and open communication and sexual expression during this time can allow you to further share this experience and grow closer. If you or your partner have questions, you may want to talk with your doctor, nurse, or midwife. An additional resource is the Sexuality Education Coordinator at McKinley Health Center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 333-2714.

If you are concerned about any difference in your treatment plan and the information in this handout, you are advised to contact your health care provider.


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Graphics may have been used in this handout; such graphics are not currently translatable to GOPHER. For full text hard copies of handouts, visit either of the Health Resource Centers - at McKinley, Room 222, at the Illini Union, Room 323 North.

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Miscellaneous Prenatal Information


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